On August 25, 2021, the United States achieved two world records: approximately a total of 39 million cases of COVID-19 among our citizenry and approximately 648,000 deaths due to succumbing to COVID. Young, old; male, female; rich, poor — it doesn’t matter. We are all potential victims of this deadly disease.
Our numbers have surpassed the data of countries such as India, Brazil, and China. Haven’t we learned anything in almost two years since the coronavirus reached the shores of our country? What’s happening here, folks?
We started on shaky ground when the term COVID-19 first rolled off our tongues back in 2020. What was going on in China at the time with this disease certainly wasn’t of major concern to us. What we later found out is just how small the world is.
The President of the United States at that time came forward to address the American public proclaiming that COVID was nothing more than a seasonal illness similar to the flu. The attitude at the time was not to be concerned; this soon would pass from our midst. The President was to be proven wrong, with him and many of his staff contracting this deadly disease, along with thousands and thousands of fellow Americans.
The virus had gained a stronghold in our country and showed no signs of retreating. At this point, thankfully, efforts were being taken under the guidance of the executive branch of government to promote the development of a vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19. The major players within the pharmaceutical industry set to work. And by the end of 2020, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, under emergency use clearance, were to make their debut.
At the start of 2021, the United States was under new leadership, and a robust distribution program was put into effect. But it ran into roadblocks … lack of coordination with various state governments and a plethora of misinformation in regards to the efficacy and safety of the vaccine itself. Governors of several states refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, and to this very day, refuse to endorse mandates with regards to vaccination, social distancing, and mask-wearing in crowded enclosed areas.
Often it is within these same states that we have seen the highest rates of transmission of the delta variant, presently the most contagious form of the COVID virus.
With some states rolling back on restrictions, there has been a huge upsurge in the spread of the delta variant. And with the start of a new school year, we are sending our children back into the classroom without a clear plan for their protection: to wear a mask or not even though the CDC strongly recommends mask-wearing, to vaccinate or not those eligible children.
There are so many mixed signals.
First, we were told that it was unlikely that anyone who was fully vaccinated would require a COVID booster shot (unless you are an immunocompromised individual or transplant recipient). Then, with the recent surge of the delta variant across the U.S., it is now recommended that everyone who is fully vaccinated is to receive a booster shot 6-8 months following their second shot to strengthen immunity.
In the August 5th issue of Forbes, a recent study pointed out that 1 in 3 workers at the nation’s 50 largest hospitals are unvaccinated, and 1 out of 8 doctors and nurses hesitate to get vaccinated. What is the message being sent to the general public? According to the New York Times, the Governor of Florida said the following, “COVID-19 is here to stay in Florida” and “it’s something that you’re going to have to live with.” This is the same individual who made threats against those school districts in Florida that imposed a mask-wearing mandate for their students, ignoring the Governor’s orders. Thankfully, a judge’s recent decision struck down those orders.
The politics of the day are, simply put, killing people. What should be happening is that everyone should be united in the war against COVID.
COVID, in effect, has used the “divide and conquer” technique to weaken our will. This disease will be with us until we unite in our efforts to fight this disease. We are so concerned about squabbling among ourselves that we have forgotten who the real enemy is — COVID. Mask wearing in public places, vaccination, and social distancing continues to be our best defense against the onslaught of the COVID virus. Protect yourself, protect our children, protect our communities and live to see the day when this pandemic has been obliterated. Stay well and safe.
Michele Luckenbaugh is a patient advocate.
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